Whenever something grows mold, we tend to discard it quickly. Of course, this is only natural – mold can be toxic and render food inedible. Mold can also elevate resources and make them more useful, as seen in the examples of blue cheese and penicillin. In this project, I wanted to highlight the less explored potentials of mold. Through experimenting with mold growth, I found that ginger is prone to hosting a lush white fluff. I found this aesthetically beautiful and texturally interesting. This wouldn’t be something that I could successfully replicate, only that I could allow. A material like ginger belongs to nature, so it’s only obvious to allow it to follow its natural processes.
Freezing the piece of fresh, un-molded ginger in epoxy resin serves as a reminder of another phase of the root’s life. While it may be read as an homage to a more lively thing, I see the cast ginger as a representation of the unnatural, sterile, and interruptive. While the ginger skin may be decaying, it is at least undergoing; becoming; growing.
I can make a sculpture from a form that I decide, I design, but how can I relinquish the control that we usually value in artistic working? How can I collaborate with something non-sentient? After I affix pieces of ginger peel to my chicken wire sculpture, the work that I can do is done. By then creating an environment for mold to grow on the ginger, I can set the stage for collaboration. This is a temporal material, one that will progress without my intervention. While mold is usually the death-sentence for material, this exposition allows it to become a desired product and a necessary contributor. This is a commonplace happening being redefined as a work, a performance. A well-hated organism being allowed to function as an object of beauty/art.
Text about work
This is a brainstorming post, to organize what kind of things I would like to address in the coming text.
temporality, natural process, relinquishing of control, changing the connotation of mold from something to immediately throw away into something to admire and anticipate, juxtaposing life and death but the alive form (ginger in epoxy) will seem much more still and ‘dead’ then the decaying, molding, active ginger peel, building something with a material that will change overtime without my influence, taking the process of something molding and turning it into art just because it’s on display,
Progress and sketches of final work
The idea for my final work is an abstract sculpture (inspired by the amorphous form of ginger) made of chicken wire and coated in ginger skins. The idea is that I will make a sculpture, a work, that is in my control and then allow the skins to grow this white fuzzy mold (shown in a previous post) and become a new work. It will hopefully look entirely different after the mold takes it’s hold. The mold, which is something that we hate and quickly throw away, becomes the star of the show – the moment to wait for. I want to then freeze a piece of fresh ginger in epoxy and display it in relation to the main sculpture, to show the temporality of the organism and my intervention – stopping the natural process. This is a very simple and everyday happening, I just want to highlight it and re-focus the connotation of mold growth and the mortality of organic material.
What I need to do: -wait for results of ginger skin experiment to ensure that it behaves the way I hope it will. -build plexiglass 5 panel case to enclose the molding sculpture. -write and finalize an accompanying text, something poetic but descriptive.
The ‘non-organic’ materials didn’t grow mold yet, but the food did very much. My ideal presentation would include a sculpture made of organic or semi-organic material which incorporates quick-molding matter in a controlled way. *collaboration with mold, creating something and allowing mold to destroy it in an unpredictable way, viewing this not as destruction but creating ‘art’, having creative freedom over my work* Possibilities: an engraved surface where some parts are allowed(/encouraged via sugar or water, etc.) to mold and others aren’t. a compartmentalized sculpture which stands healthy but contains molding materials. Maybe it’s presented outside and allowed to decay. Questions: at what stage will the work be displayed, how much should it be allowed to mold before being brought to Amsterdam? What environmental factors does it NEED when displayed? ex. will mold still grow outside in January? What is the certain form of the sculpture, what is the balance between healthy material and moldable material?
The ginger grows really fluffy white mold and VERY quickly, but how do I avoid food waste in my final project?
After three days, only the ginger and lime have grown any mold – the ginger considerably more than the lime. An aubergine in my refrigerator also grew a lot, I still wonder how things get so moldy in the fridge because there is light and it’s cold – which is not mold’s ‘ideal environment’. All of the mold is white, I will see if it changes color over time. Maybe there are mostly spores to create white mold in my flat.
original mold findings
Now I am focusing on observing/researching mold growth on various materials. I’m not that interested in the growth on foods right now, other than maybe citrus and roots, so I am trying with some other materials. I added some dye onto the paper to try and see if it will change the color of the mold growth. Through the research that i’ve done, it seems that in my home it won’t be possible to self-determine the color of the mold that grows and this is decided more by which type of mold is present in the spores in the air.
I’m very interested in what these people are doing because it’s a true collaboration. They aren’t necessarily trying to control the medium (the mold) but rather creating something and then letting it be added to (destroyed) by the unpredictable mold growth.
-How much can I manipulate the growth pattern of mycelium? Can I convince it to grow a certain way while still encouraging its natural/healthy growth? -How can I influence growth of certain colored molds?
-Can the mycelium grow while the mold promotes decay? Will it be an ouroboros? Can they feed each other?
-How can mold and mycelium interact as they are part of the same organism them both having properties of growth and destruction?
-What is the point where mycelium blooms mushrooms or gets moldy?
Filomena research plans
I am currently growing mycelium in my closet, trying one method of making a ‘lasagna’ with cardboard and mushroom stems. I will see how this goes and if it doesn’t work, i’ll try another way.
I will soon start letting various things grow mold and observing what happens and how the properties of the host affect the molding.
When I have some information on these things, I will start experimenting with the intersection.